Rebecca Whitlinger set out to prove you can rewear a bridesmaid dress, over and over and over again
When Rebecca Whitlinger first saw the gold sequined gold lamé bridesmaid dress for her close friend’s 1988 wedding, she was certain she wouldn’t wear it again.
"It seemed unlikely, until I decided, ‘If I couldn’t wear it anywhere, I’d wear it everywhere, and take the pictures to prove it,' ” says Whitlinger, 62, whose golden gown has twice been featured in PEOPLE magazine and is featured a third time in this week’s issue.
At the time, she hated the dress, but she kept quiet and wore it.
“I loved my friend,” she says. And so did the rest of the bridal party, who wore matching golden disco-style dresses. “We all went along with it.”
For the last 35 years, she has taken the custom-made, since-tailored gown with her wherever she goes and snapped a photo of herself wearing it, sharing the adventures on social media at @golddressdiary.
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She’s worn the dress from Milan to Paris, to ski in the Swiss Alps, hike Machu Picchu, tour caves in Iceland and ride a camel in Morocco. She’s snapped photos sporting the gown in London telephone booths and dining in a three-star Michelin restaurant in Burgundy.
"It goes everywhere,” she says. “It’s in the trunk of the car now, just in case a photo op comes.”
In 1999 she published a book, Always a Bridesmaid: 89 Ways to Recycle That Bridesmaid Dress. She included in the book pictures of herself playing pool and scuba diving in the dress.
Near her home in Pittsburgh, she’s worn her dress to Steelers games, and to Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Symphony Orchestra performances.
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“It makes people laugh,” says Whitlinger, an associate director for the non-profit Cancer Bridges. “It's a hobby. Some people knit. I wear a bridesmaid's dress.”
She says people are always asking her two questions: "Where have you worn the dress lately?" and "How do you still fit into it?"
“I have some good fitness tips — so I always share that! People get a kick out of it,” she says. “I think if it still fits, I should wear it. I've certainly got my money's worth out of it.”
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